Throughout this legislative session, which is about to come to an end, the topic of additional ethics legislation – specifically, a ban or cap on gifts that lawmakers can receive — has been the unwanted guest at the dinner party.
A guest who had already been shown the door – and this morning was kicked to the curb.
Expectations had already been reduced to a simple study committee contained in SR 1220, introduced by a lone sponsor, state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. From his legislation:
….there is created the Senate Study Committee on Georgia Ethics and Accountability to be composed of nine members to be appointed by the President of the Senate as follows: five members of the Senate and four members of the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform. The President of the Senate shall designate one of the appointees to serve as chairperson of the committee. The chairperson shall call all meetings of the committee.
This morning, the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Don Balfour, R-Snellville, made a few changes to McKoon’s legislation. It eliminated civilians, and named seven senators to populate the study committee. None of them were named McKoon.
They were: Balfour; Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga; President pro tem Tommy Williams, R-Lyons; John Crosby, R-Tifton; George Hooks, D-Americus; Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville; and Renee Unterman, R-Buford.
“We wanted senior members of the Legislature to be on it, and we put a number of Democrats and a number of Republicans,” Balfour said.
And why eliminate good-government civilians from a study committee? “The rules committee didn’t think there was a reason to put outside members on it,” the chairman said.
And will the study committee be active? “Oh, I think so. We wouldn’t pass [SR 1220] otherwise,” Balfour said.
McKoon was circumspect. “It is true that I’m not on the study committee that has been proposed by Senate Bill 1220,” he told reporters. But he declined to comment further on the rules committee’s decision.
“I think you’re going to see a broader discussion of this issue – not just here at the General Assembly, but within the Republican party here in this state. I think a lot of our folks who elect us to the General Assembly are concerned about this issue,” McKoon said.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider